Lewis Hamilton remains defiant in the aftermath of his agonizing US Grand Prix defeat, claiming that he can lead Mercedes "to the top."
Lewis Hamilton issued a defiant message after narrowly missing out on his first victory of the season at the United States Grand Prix, insisting that he is "still here" and ready to lead Mercedes "to the top" once they have closed the gap on Red Bull.
On Sunday, Hamilton appeared to be on track for an unlikely and long-awaited victory after being propelled into the lead by Max Verstappen's lengthy pit stop, but Red Bull's double world champion fought back to first overtake Charles Leclerc into Turn 12, and then Hamilton with six laps remaining.
Given Red Bull's tyre and pace advantage - particularly on the straights - over Mercedes, the seven-time world champion was ultimately a sitting duck, and Sunday saw Verstappen equal the record for most wins in a season (13), and Red Bull clinch their fifth constructors' championship.
Hamilton, on the other hand, saw plenty of advantages in simply having a chance to win, and made a bullish prediction about a Formula One comeback.
"We got closer today, so I'm really proud of everyone," he said to Sky Sports F1. "I'm sorry I didn't get the win; I gave it my all."
"What I will take away from today is that we moved at a good pace - and I am still here." I know that when they finish building the car, I will drive it to the top, so all we have to do now is keep working."
Hamilton went on to say that leading the race late in the race "felt amazing" and that "for a second I thought maybe we might be able to hold it."
"I could see that he was closing a second a lap, and I couldn't really answer to it for a while," he explained.
"Then he came from so far back on the straight, they're normally 10kph faster than us on the straight anyway, and at the end of the straight my mirrors were vibrating so much I couldn't see where he was, so it was difficult to defend."
Meanwhile, Hamilton is running out of time to extend his F1 record of winning a race in each of his 16 seasons. In 2022, there are three races remaining: one in Mexico this weekend, one in Brazil, and one in Abu Dhabi.
"With everything that happened last year in the last race, and then everything that has happened recently with all the news and everything," he explained, "a win would be a huge triumph for us all and hugely rewarding."
During the press conference, he did say that Mercedes needed to be "realistic" with their expectations.
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Hamilton's pledge to take Mercedes "to the top" in 2023 is dependent on his team's work over the winter, with the Silver Arrows set to change the 'DNA' of their car, which underperformed massively in 2022.
Toto Wolff, the team's manager, is optimistic about their chances.
"We know more now about where we went wrong with the car," he told All Sports F1.
"You can almost trace it back to a stupid decision we made last October when we thought we could drive the car on the deck but couldn't.
"So it's small hamster steps, and as long as the trajectory is upward, I believe we're on the right track.
"We'll have 14% more wind tunnel time than Red Bull next year, which should keep them at bay."
"The pace was maybe two tenths off and that is what we were missing at the end," he said of the US Grand Prix. "But credit to Red Bull, they have done a good job all year and it was really strong so them winning the constructors' championship today is what they deserve."